A colleague of mine, Alex Zea, used an analogy the other day. While it’s a little weird (just hang with me), it makes the point and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I’m taking creative license here and adding to her analogy for context: Say you are pregnant. You’re focused on growing a baby, you go to doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment, you put together your baby registry, you have a baby shower with all of your friends – until the Big Day comes and you labor and deliver your baby. What’s next? You bring the baby home and spend all your available time and energy caring for that baby, making sure she is safe and healthy. Parents start by taking care of the most basic of needs. Over time, the baby’s needs evolve and parents evolve, too, making all kinds of decisions to guide them and help them continue to grow and develop.
Now think about your last technology implementation. Stay with me here; the analogy works. Everyone on your implementation team was fully invested in design, configuration, and testing for months – the project probably felt very much like your baby. Everyone was working toward that big day, the milestone event, the date circled on all your calendars: the “Go Live.” There was training, a communications plan, all kinds of bustling activity. The post-imlementation support, or warranty period, expired and for a few months after, adoption was tracked and the HRIS team made sure things were working. After that, things fell back to maintenance mode and a regular cadence of product updates and testing. Mostly within HRIS.
Now fast forward five years: the technology isn’t working the way everyone thought it would. It seems clunky and outdated and doesn’t meet rapidly changing business needs. We hear this all the time. This is the problem: It takes a long time to design the technology and it’s a lot of hard work to implement it, but you can’t fall back into a “break-glass-in-case-of-emergency” maintenance plan where minimal care and attention is provided. Everything around the technology is changing and evolving and “growing up,” and so must the technology. Your technology needs care and feeding. In this way, having technology is not unlike having a baby.
Having a baby doesn’t end when the baby is born – that’s when raising a baby begins. It’s the starting point for a baby and for his parents. With technology, it’s not just about implementing and “go live.” It’s “go begin,” and it’s a starting point. That’s where the fun – and the real work! – begins. As the business needs change, so do the technology needs. So it’s important to have someone who is charged with figuring out the evolving strategy for the technology so it can continue to grow, mature, and meet business needs.
This approach is what we refer to when we talk about the difference between implementation and deployment. Implementation is the birthing of your technology, getting it up and running, and signing off after the warranty or hypercare period. It’s how you fuel the experience and intended business outcome you set out to achieve. A more holistic approach to deployment includes Mindset, People and Process: why you’re doing something, the change or impact you’re trying to create, and a redesigning of Business as Usual to support that. Deployment is harder work, but it’s the work that’s needed to make your technology continue to serve its intended purpose. Don’t neglect your technology; this is when the real work begins, you need an ongoing nurturer (see Alex Zea’s two cents on Drafting a Digital Dream Team if you don’t know who your nurturers should be) and nurturing strategy for it to grow and evolve to meet the needs of employees and your business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ironically, the author was delivered by her late father, an OB/GYN. But we digress..
Suzanne Bell is an HR practitioner and consultant with more than 20 years of leadership experience in Corporate HR strategy, talent management, technology, strategic workforce planning, analytics, and change enablement. Suzanne’s HR experience comes first-hand from an insider’s perspective at companies including Toyota Financial Services, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and IBM.
Suzanne’s recent work addresses integrated talent management strategy, digital workforce experience, service delivery, change enablement, process redesign, solution selection, portal design and content management.
Leapgen is a global digital transformation company shaping the future of work. Highly respected as a visionary partner to organizations looking to design and deliver a digital workforce experience that will produce valued outcomes to the business, Leapgen helps enterprise leaders rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services and architect HR technology solutions that meet the expectations of workers and the needs of the business.